Get our newsletters

Ex-Bensalem school board member gets same job in Council Rock


Wrightstown resident Stephen Nowmos was appointed to the Council Rock School Board during a special Tuesday Feb. 28 meeting, despite a controversy about some Facebook posts he allegedly made that critics say disparaged transgender people and some others. He vehemently denied making the posts.

Nowmos, a board member in Bensalem from 2008-2010, fills the Council Rock Region 9 vacancy created by the Feb. 9 resignation of Kristin Marcell, now the state representative in Legislative District 178.

A Wrightstown resident since 2010 and a Republican, Nowmos will serve through the early December reorganization meeting by virtue of the appointment. He said he will probably file to run in this year’s election in the hopes of keeping the seat beyond December but has not done so yet.

His appointment by a 5-3 vote was along party lines, with Republican board members Ed Salamon, Robert Hickey, Mike Roosevelt, Joseph Hidalgo and Michael Thorwart voting for Nowmos.

Democratic members Ed Tate, Mariann McKee and Yota Palli favored fellow Democrat Nicole Khan, who lost to Marcell by only seven votes in the 2021 election. Also publicly interviewed and considered for the vacancy at the Tuesday night meeting was Christina Chandler.

School board member Palli — saying she was seeing Nowmos’ face “all over Facebook” — and some residents brought up his alleged posts, saying they appeared to show bias and were concerning. He denied making them, both during his interview and after the meeting in comments to the media.

“My wife and I have had a Facebook account for about 15 years, but I haven’t used it in, I’d say, 10 years,” Nowmos said after the meeting. “I don’t do social media, except for LinkedIn. Whatever they are talking about on Facebook, I did not author it.”

Since the Facebook issue came up, Salamon, in the interest of “leveling the playing field,” mentioned an email he said was written and sent out by Khan last year that touched on “extreme far right political agendas in our school district.

“I do not appreciate that,” said Salamon in a remark directed at Khan, who did not respond.

The three applicants, all Wrightstown residents (Region 9 is all of Wrightstown and a small part of Newtown Township) were each interviewed for 20 minutes, with all eight board members asking a different question covering various topics. Applicants were allowed to make statements on whatever they wanted in whatever time was left after answering the questions.

Party affiliation was not mentioned by any school board member as a factor in the candidate they favored. The five who voted for Nowmos touched on his previous experience on a school board and what they considered to be his impressive answers to the questions.

“Who can pick up the ball and run with it the best in this very difficult time before voters have the chance to decide?” Roosevelt asked. “To me, that person is Mr. Nowmos.”

Tate cited the close 2021 election and Khan’s continued activity in the district, including frequent attendance at school board and committee meetings, as among the reasons she should have been selected.

“Nicole Khan was nearly elected to this seat,” Tate said. “I think she would best represent the opinions of voters in that region.”

Salamon countered that the person replacing Marcell should be someone whose views most closely reflect her philosophy of school board service, and that was Nowmos.

Thorwart said he based his decision largely on his question on whether the candidate would handle another major health crisis in the same way as the coronavirus pandemic. He is an outspoken critic of the closed schools, mandatory masks and other steps taken by Council Rock and other districts during the pandemic.

While the answers by Khan and Chandler were a little more nuanced, indicating they felt there was merit on both sides of the argument, Nowmos’ answer was the only one that satisfied Thorwart, who admitted that his question was “loaded.”

“You were the only one who had the guts to say I would not do it again,” Thorwart told Nowmos.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.